Your shoes, your coat, your hat, are not hanging in your mudroom anymore. Your car is not in your driveway, your closet is cleaned out. Your office is being rearranged, your drawers are emptied – but somehow you are still here. Your hat and jacket hang at my place now and I wouldn’t be surprised if some people think of me as that strange girl who wears oversized men’s clothes, but I don’t care. I love being wrapped up in your clothes. So many of your things, your spaces, are gone – and yet you are still here.
I thought I heard your car pull up the driveway yesterday. I got so excited for about three seconds before I realized it couldn’t be you. It will never be you again because you aren’t here – and yet in so many ways, you are.
You are everywhere – in the bird’s songs, the sunrises and sunsets, the campfires, the breeze, the long branches of your favorite oak tree that tower over me when I sit beneath it. You are here not in some weird way but in such a real way. You loved these things, you took time to enjoy them, they are a part of you to me, and they are still here. But even more than these physical things, YOU still feel very near. I think Heaven is closer than we think.
You are here when we read together as a family, have family work days outside, go on camping trips, and when I school the kids and take time to talk about deep things with them. You were here when we planted a garden and got chicks and bunnies. I can feel you when we choose life. You are more alive now than you ever were here and you know what us choosing life here really means – the full weight of it.
My Daddy, my precious Daddy. Oh how I miss you every single day. Oh how I long for you – a longing that will remain unfulfilled this side of Heaven but one that is promised to be fulfilled once and for all one day.
I miss you so much I can feel it in physical pain, but even so, healing is happening. It is slow, I wish there were parts I could skip over, it doesn’t always look like what I think it should, but it is happening.
I can feel it in the gratitude that has started to smooth out the sharp edges of grief. There are still sharp edges – they take my breath away sometimes – but they are not all there is anymore, or even mostly all there is. I can feel it in moments of joy when instead of the ache of loss I am starting to ride waves of thankfulness for what I had, what I still have, what I will have – and when I think of where you are now I am filled with deep gratitude.
I am so, so happy for you Dad! You have tasted and are living in what we live toward and long for. I can only imagine. Some days my heart just celebrates, because I know where you are and it is the very best place you could ever be. You are safe, whole, healed, free, strong, completely at peace, and fully alive in every way. My goodness, some days I don’t think I can wait. I feel healing when I look up from all this world has to offer to an eternity that will make this life seem like just a breath, just a blink. Every trauma and heartache here will soon feel like such a distant, small thing compared to the reality of Heaven, forever together again, every fear drowned in Perfect Love, every pain erased, forever whole, forever healed, forever free… Everything changes, even what the past looks like, in light of what is coming. Mom and I often tell each other, “Just a little while longer.” And it is true. What precious promises we have!
Will I ever “move on”? No. Never. I think that phrase is a stupid one when it is used to describe life after loss. I will never move on from you, your life, your love, from a lifetime of precious memories of a family whose every member was present. You are so much a part of who I am. I see you in a thousand places every day and I think I always will. I will never move on. You cannot move on from such love, but you can move forward with it. So forward I go, carrying you with me in every beat of my heart. There is so much life to live, so many things from such a good God yet to experience, and I know nothing would honor you more than if I went after it. I wish we could write that book. I wish I got to rejoice with you over things you wanted to do but none of it would top what you are experiencing now. I wish so many things but I can’t change the past so I am looking ahead, I am getting up, I am running, Daddy. Well, kind of limping, but I’m determined to move forward, knowing you are in that great cloud of witnesses now.
There are so many things I wish we could talk about. Like how I see so clearly now that we were created for Heaven – never does that feel more true than when a loved one is lost to this earth and goes Home to Jesus. Now each day is lived in a new-to-me tension of one foot here and one foot there, one part of my heart here on earth and one part in Heaven, one part of my mind here and on what I have yet to do, and one part on where I am ultimately going and on running into your arms again. These two realms will forever be connected to me now and I feel the tension of living for one place while in another.
I am seeing that grief is not something you can step over – it must be walked through. And it is not something anyone else can walk through for you – you have to walk through it yourself, hopefully alongside others who step in to walk with you, but in so many ways, alone. I was thinking of Jesus recently and how even though He knew Lazarus was about to be resurrected, even though He knew the end of the story, the big picture, the one that would make temporary physical death seem so fleeting and insignificant, He still entered into Mary’s grief with her and wept – because He loved her. He was not concerned about Lazarus dying or nervous that maybe God wasn’t Who He thought, or in despair wondering how on earth God was going to fix this one. But even so, He did not chide Mary for her grief or point out her lack of faith or anything else – He was filled with compassion for the Daughter of His heart, He entered that dark place with her, wept with her, and then walked out the next chapter with her. That is my Jesus. I am so thankful that He is not hesitant to step into grief with us – sometimes to show us a bigger picture, sometimes to speak truth that empowers us, sometimes just to sit with us and weep so that we do not weep alone.
Three months closer to seeing you and I miss you every day but I’m okay, Daddy. You introduced me to the One who saves and showed me where He lives, taught me that He is ever present in times of trouble. You showed me what it looks like to live each day to the fullest. You showed me over and over again what it looks like to get back up and keep going – I’m doing that now and thinking of you.
I love you, Dad.
Just a little while longer.